Masons Amusements was founded in Cleveleys in 1945 by Albert Mason Snr, a travelling showman. Albert married Kate, the daughter of another travelling showman Fred Thompson, in London, and they moved north with Fred and their young family when The Blitz began in 1941. They eventually settled in Cleveleys, living in trailers on Bradley’s Camp on Beach Road.
Fred quickly established several businesses in the area including The Queen’s Theatre (later The Showboat before it’s demolition in the late 70s), 2 permanent fairgrounds in East Lancs, The Cleveleys Pleasure Beach (which stood near Jubilee Gardens) and The Olympia. The Olympia was a purpose-built arcade constructed on the site of The Old Cleveleys Inn, which was demolished in the late 1930s, and Fred acquired the building when the Home Guard vacated it towards the end of the war. Fred sold The Olympia to Albert & Kate in 1950 and closed The Pleasure Beach a year later. He then moved to Withernsea and then Mablethorpe on the East Coast and continued to open funfairs, prize bingos and arcades in and near both towns.
The 40-foot high, 200-ton ‘Big Dipper’ roller coaster (then known as a ‘scenic railway’) from The Cleveleys Pleasure Beach was sold to Mssrs. John Collins, the largest fairground contractors in the country, and was transported to Battersea Park in London to be used in The Festival Of Britain in 1951. At the time it was described in the press as “the largest portable scenic railway in the world” but their definition of “portable” might be called into question today! This is how The Gazette reported the move on January 27th, 1951;
“15 men started dismantling operations here last week and are hoping to finish the job this weekend. Nearly half a dozen loads of timber have been sent daily to Thornton Goods Station at Hillylaid where every day several loaded wagons are being sent to Poulton. There, a special train of between 50 and 60 wagons is being assembled by British Railways and the Cleveleys Big Dipper – about 200 tons of it altogether – will start on the long journey to Battersea, and it is hoped to earn dollars and other coveted currencies. Thornton station master, Mr W Hiddon, has been spending a good deal of his time at the goods station this week. “Of it’s kind this is probably the biggest job we’ve ever tackled here””.
Opposite The Olympia was ‘The Arena’. This was an outdoor stage operated by the then Urban Council and hosted shows such as ‘The Follies’. It ran at a huge annual loss and Albert took it off the council’s hands in 1966 to establish Childrens Corner on the site. Childrens Corner became probably the most famous, and certainly the best-loved, post-war tourist attraction in Cleveleys and ran on the site for 44 years. When Cleveleys promenade was redeveloped in 2006 Childrens Corner was moved onto a smaller site 30 meters north of it’s original home where it continues to run from Easter until the end of Blackpool Lights. The Arena, now known as ‘The Plaza’, is no longer in use. Albert also established The Orion Bingo Club in the town, in the old Odeon Cinema on Crescent West, which ran for many years until it was sold following the death of Albert’s widow in 2007.
On Albert’s death in 1986 the business was passed on to his sons, Michael and Albert Jnr, and is now overseen by Albert’s Grandson, Michael Mason Jnr.